The Stickler Weekly 155 Solution

It’s much easier for me to predict that a clue is going to prove difficult for solver than it is to say that it’s going to be easy to solve. I know as I write a clue whether an element of it could prove tricky, usually because I hesitate, considering if I’m happy to proceed with my clueing choice. Tricky elements include uncommon words, or uncommon meanings of words in both/either definition or wordplay; using a different word form in the clue than is needed in the answer (for example, looks like an adjective in the clue, but a noun is needed in the answer etc); tricky device, or one I don’t use very often, and complicated wordplay. If any of these are present, I know some solvers are going to need extra time to work the clue out, or maybe a number of revisits. It’s this type of clue that I will definitely have clue help for on my blog. However, as the nature of all well-written cryptic clues is disguise, no matter what device is at play, I believe EVERY clue has the potential to be difficult for someone.
Not everyone has the same solving ability and most people have their own way of solving. Everything from the order of solving clues, to how you feel, can effect how well you solve, which is why I’m reluctant these days to pronounce any clue as easy. A long time ago I had a crossword in the ACC‘s magazine, CrOzworld. One of the clues was: Observe him on it, or in it? (7). The answer’s position in the grid left ?O?I?O? from all crossing words, and I thought the answer was as easy as could be: Observe hiM ON IT OR in it? MONITOR, and said as much at an ACC do after I’d adjudicated this puzzle and had a number of submissions with HORIZON as the answer. (Note the missing initial and only three crossing letters causing problems). One person who got it wrong piped up at the time, reminding me that things are never as they seem in cryptics. I don’t tend to include clue help for those clues I consider easy enough, but plenty of people still ask for help for those clues, again reminding me that, as the setter, I don’t view clues through the same eyes as solvers.
When Arthur Maynard pronounced recently on the blog that for the first time he’d gone through The Stickler Weekly and finished it in one sitting, in some ways I wasn’t surprised. When putting the crossword together, there were a number of clues where I consciously took the easy path.

Male shifting about is faced with a sickness (7)
Final point MIT raised in mutual arrangement (9)
Compete, not taking preferred approach (4)

In each case I’ve chosen to go with elements “in the clear”, that is, I haven’t disguised the elements by selecting synonyms. MALE, MIT and COMPETE all could have been clued differently and validly, but doing so would have made each clue that much harder. Some setters would never use elements in the clear, but for me it comes down to overall difficulty in the crossword and whether the clues involved have a surface reading that can absorb such a construction and still present some kind of challenge.

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 UNDER A CLOUD
International body worried about rowdy considered suspect (5,1,5) UN + (CARED reversed) + LOUD
9 ANTIGUA
Caribbean island area of giant iguanas (7) giANT IGUAnas
10 MALAISE
Male shifting about is faced with a sickness (7) MALE outside (A in front of IS)
11 DOMINEER
Ride roughshod over active person working outside mine (8) DOER outside MINE
12 SLAYER
Butcher and small egg producer (6) S + LAYER
14 RATE
Judge swallowed following conclusion of barrister (4) ATE after BARRISTE(R)
15 STRETCH OUT
Be sick getting stuck into beer, and relax (7,3) RETCH inside STOUT
18 ADMIRATION
Maid not normally helping with praise (10) Anagram of MAID + RATION
19 MELT
Slices of caramel tart become soft (4) caraMEL Tart
22 UNPAID
Power cutting aid given by UN volunteer (6) P inside (UN + AID)
24 CANONISE
Saint in activity is restricted by walking-stick (8) (ON + IS) inside CANE
26 EDUCATE
A teacher initially brought in to develop school (7) [A + (T)EACHER inside EDUCE
27 ICINESS
Reserve is punched by awfully nice head of security (7) IS outside [anagram of NICE + (S)ECURITY]
28 BUSHRANGERS
Coach employed by personnel riles old thieves (11) BUS + HR + ANGERS
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 ULTIMATUM
Final point MIT raised in mutual arrangement (9) MIT reversed inside anagram of MUTUAL
2 DUGONG
Marine mammal continued to burrow close to log (6) DUG ON + LO(G)
3 REAL ESTATE
A steel not normally used in construction of standard property (4,6) Anagram of A STEEL inside RATE
4 COME
Compete, not taking preferred approach (4) COMPETE minus PET
5 OIL SLICK
Crude contaminant contaminated soil a small amount (3,5) Anagram of SOIL + LICK
6 DAIRY
Deal primarily with light milk supplier (5) (D)EAL + AIRY
7 GANDER
Blushing shrew returned glance (6) (RED + NAG) reversed
8 SECRET
Unidentified crew mostly stayed in place (6) (CRE)W in SET
13 DECORATION
An honour bestowed last month, before formal speech (10) DEC + ORATION
16 ONE-LINERS
Jokes about E-boats? (3-6) ON + E LINERS
17 ARRIVALS
Newcomers are seen briefly with competitors (8) (AR)E + RIVALS
18 AMULET
A drug trafficker close to airport – Mascot (6) A + MULE + AIRPOR(T)
20 THEIST
Believer is consumed by the start to Timothy (6) IS inside [THE + (T)IMOTHY]
21 MOBILE
Crowd that is hanging around large locomotive (6) MOB + (IE outside L)
23 PLUMB
True choice by bishop (5) PLUM + B
25 TEAR
Drop rent (4) Double Definition

 

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One Response to The Stickler Weekly 155 Solution

  1. Richard Sternes says:

    18d – Good One David, but went for ABUSER

    A BUS (trafficker) then all down-hill from there …………